A look at those teams we think will challenge for the top spot in the region.
2013 Ohio HS Football Preview
Region 14 Preview
Teams To Watch
*Alter (8-2-1, Region 12 quarterfinalist): The Knights have been to the playoff 12 years in a row, but the last two seasons have suffered disappointing early round exists. This year look for defense to carry the torch. Alter returns nine All-GCL players, six of which are defenders. That group is all seniors and includes WR/DB Jordan George, LB John Manfreda (46 tackles), LB Tim Seifret (67 tackles), DL Lane Breyer, DL Joe Kramer and LB Andrew Seifert. On offense, look for senior RB Tommy Ruff (341 yards, three TDs) to get plenty of touches. Senior K Michael Ruffolo is a serious threat. Junior DL Kraig Howe (6-3, 253) is one to watch.
*Carlisle (8-2): The Indians could be dangerous. Carlisle returns a talented backfield in senior QB Levi Boyer (6-1, 195) and junior RB Jason Sandlin (5-7, 150). Boyer was the SWBL Buckeye Division QB of the Year last season after throwing for 1,994 yards and 15 TDs and running for 554 yards and seven TDs. Sandlin, second team All-SWBL, ran for 1,090 yards and eight TDs. Senior Dylan Clay (5-9, 155) is the top returning receiver (32 rec., 480 yards, four TDs). Senior WR Gideon Cunningham (6-2, 160) is a special teams threat (three kick returns for TDs last year). Senior DL Darren Milligan (6-1, 270) anchors the defense.
*Circleville (6-5, Region 12 quarterfinalist): The Tigers snapped a four-year playoff drought last year. They should challenge for back-to-back berths. Senior QB David Burroughs (5-9, 170) is one of central Ohio’s best. He’ll be protected by senior OL J.B. Brooks, Circleville (6-5, 295). Senior LB Rusty Shull, Circleville (6-0, 210) leads the defense.
*Gallipolis Gallia Academy (9-3, Region 12 semifinalist): The Blue Devils beat Cincinnati McNicholas in the first round of the playoffs last year for their first postseason win since 2006 and their first home postseason win since 2002. For an encore they’ll try to deliver the program’s 11th playoff berth. Senior LB/RB Ty Warnimont (5-9, 170) is a two-time first team All-Southeast Ohio Athletic League selection and a force on both sides of the ball. He ran for 928 yards and 10 TDs last year and registered 148 tackles, 10 sacks, five forced fumbles and two INTs. Senior QB Wade Jerrell (6-0, 160) returns after rushing for 1,035 yards and throwing for 1,231 more. He accounted for 25 TDs (14 passing).
*Miami Trace (6-4): The Panthers are a team to take seriously. The potential is there. The defense returns seven starters including standout junior DL Cedric Pettiford (6-4, 195). The offense returns a three-year starter at quarterback (Jim Stoker), it’s top four running backs and top two receivers. A senior, Stoker threw for over 1,000 yards and rushed for over 800 last season. Big games include Clinton-Massie, Columbus Ready, Logan Elm, Circleville, Chillicothe, Wilmington and Washington Court House. Said second-year veteran coach Steve Bartlett (176-94 career record): “If we stay healthy, we have a chance to be pretty decent. The team should be much improved.”
*Middletown Fenwick (8-3): The Falcons are coming off a historic season in which they won the third league title in school history, beat Alter and made the playoffs for the first time since 2004. A bitter taste remains, though, after a first round loss at Norwood. Fenwick returns one of Ohio’s most versatile players in senior RB/WR/DB Frank Catrine who had 2,389 all-purpose yards (848 rushing, 596 receiving, 804 on kickoff returns) and 22 TDs last year. He also punted and had 42 tackles and three INTs. In all, Fenwick returns 87-percent of a backfield that churned out 3,172 yards (and accounted for 30 of the team’s 35 rushing TDs). The stable includes junior Jake Percy (5-8, 155/528 yards, three TDs), senior Thomas Sheridan (5-11, 180/471 yards, four TDs) and senior Brandon Moore (6-0, 185/437 yards, six TDs).
*Minford (8-3, Region 15 quarterfinalist): The Falcons rebounded from a 4-6 finish to make the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons. Expectations are high again. Senior OL Jared McCray (6-5, 300) is one of Ohio’s best and has committed to Louisville. He’ll block for a talented tandem of seniors in QB Cody Stapleton (5-11, 178) and FB Austin Carter (5-10, 195). Stapleton threw for 844 yards and ran for 178 en route to accounting for 16 TDs last season, while Carter ran for 807 yards and nine TDs. Carter also had 44 tackles and eight TFL at LB. McCray and Carter were first team All-SOC II. Head coach Brent Daniels is 45-20 in six seasons. Other key contributors will be RB Zach Justice (jr., 5’9, 165), RB Grant Piguet (jr., 5″10, 185), DE Nathan Compton (sr., 5’10, 195), WR Caleb Clark sr., 6’0, 180), DB Jack White (sr., 6’2, 175), LB Levi Jenkins (sr., 5’8, 195), OL Kane Madden (so., 6’3, 310), OL Austin Mcknight (sr., 5’9, 200) and OL Seth Rickman (sr., 6-0, 225). Big non-league games loom with Grandview Heights, Oak Hill and Portsmouth. “We have a senior layden club this year and most have been starting since they were sophomores,” Daniels said. “We have good depth in several positions on the offensive side of the ball, but we need to have a couple of younger kids step up on defense.”
*Norwood (10-2, Region 16 semifinalist): The Indians made the playoffs for the first time since 2004 last year and beat Fenwick in the first round. Norwood returns standout senior QB Andrew Conover (5-11, 175) who threw for 2,137 yards and 25 TDs last year. He also ran for 336 yards and two TDs. Conover’s favorite target – senior WR Jared Peters (6-0, 170) – is back too. Peters caught 50 passes for 993 yards and 12 TDs as a junior.
*Urbana (9-2, Region 10 quarterfinalist): New head coach Nick Marion (a 2007 UHS grad) inherits a team heavy on talent. The Hillclimbers have won 14 straight Central Buckeye Conference mad River Division games and three straight conference titles. Junior QB Nathan Mays (6-3, 185) is a two-time CBC Mad River Player of the Year whose thrown for over 4,000 yards and 58 TDs in two years. Also back are four All-CBC seniors in OL/DL Jake Quick (5-11, 245), RB/DB Shane Ware (5-11, 190), FB/LB Drake Forest (5-11, 165) and OL/DL Justin Weller (6-2, 260). Ware had six INTs and caught 35 passes for 591 yards and nine TDs last year, while Frost caught four TD passes and had 82 tackles.
*Valley View (4-6): The Spartans own 16 playoff berths in the last 21 years but haven’t been to the postseason since 2009. That could change this year. VV returns seven All-SWBL players including junior QB Clay Smith, senior DB Mike Valenti and senior LB Shane Hannah. Also back are the senior all-league quartet of RB Isaac Stamper, WR Tyson Skidmore, RB/DB Cole Johnson and OL Logan Shrout.
*Wyoming (7-3): The Cowboys have enough talent for an extended run. First team All-Cincinnati Hills League senior QB Will Marty (6-4, 190) returns after throwing for 2,413 yards and 24 TDs. Additional returning senior All-CHL selections include RB Terrell Dailey (5-8, 170), LB Casey Howell (xx), WR Dominic Vamosi (xx) and DB Jalen Fox (5-11, 180). Dailey ran for 1,016 yards and scored 20 TDs last year, while Vamosi caught 34 passes for 571 yards and five TDs. Howell led the team in tackles (102) and Fox – who has committed to Ohio – had 67 tackles and three INTs (one TD). Junior DB Parker Chalmers (5-9, 160) had 91 tackles.
Region 14: Team To Beat
Our favorite to win the Region is…CLICK HERE
Region 14: Keep An Eye On
Teams, players and programs of note entering 2013…CLICK HERE
Region 14: Also In This Region
Who rounds out the region?…CLICK HERE
D-IV Preseason All-Ohio Team
Playoff Teams: Our Predictions
10 Players To Watch